Ageism in the workplace is prevalent — whether you actually can see it or not. Employers make biased, unfounded assumptions about late-career professionals' skills, they judge their relevancy and they're quick to cut them loose.
In fact, according to a Fairygodboss survey of 1,000 people over the age of 40, just over one in three respondents (37%) who report experiencing workplace ageism report that they were younger than 45 the first time it'd happened to them. Most of the survey's respondents (62%) said that their first experience occured at a mid-level position.
Furthermore, the respondents who had experienced workplace ageism are 3.6 times more likely to fear losing their jobs because of their ages, compared to those who haven't endured this kind of discrimination at work. More than half of the respondents also said that they believe it'll be difficult to keep their jobs or find new jobs between the ages of 50 and 64 years old.
But companies are losing out on a lot of talent if they do fire or refuse to hire older women.
Here are seven powerful reasons why we need older women in the workplace.
Older workers, of course, have more years of experience than younger workers. They may have more varied experiences, as well, since they've been in the game longer. And they can bring all of their years of experience with them to color their workplace performance today.
Older women in the workplace have been through a lot of what younger women in the workplace may not be experiencing. As such, they can make great mentors and advocates for younger female employees who may look to them as role models. After all, younger women in the workplace need to be able to see people who look like them in senior-level positions in order to know that it's possible for them, too.
Because older workers have been cultivating their careers for some time now, they've likely built up networks of professionals over time. Having a strong business network is always an asset.
According to the aforementioned Fairygodboss survey, 65% of respondents who have experienced ageism in the workplace all say that older workers contribute unique value to the productivity of a team. Science proves time and time again that diversity is key to bringing fresh ideas to the table — team members can tap into their own strengths, share insights and bounce ideas off each other based off of their own, inimitable experiences.
AARP data suggests that as of 2018, workers over 55 years old occupy nearly half of new jobs. And many of them have plans to keep working past the traditional age of retirement. Perhaps that's why, according to AARP, employees aged 65 and older actually make up the fastest-growing segment of the country's workforce.
There's a common misconception that older workers don't have the technology skills to meet today's standards. But the fact is that they can learn those necessary skills, and they also bring with them other skills that people today (who've grown up with automated everything!) don't have.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.
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